I'm still figuring out if UU is the right path for me. I've been thinking a lot about the first principle and how challenging that can actually be.
Of course it informs us that actions which violate the worth and dignity of the individual ought to be condemned and never tolerated, actions including but not limited to murder, rape, child molestation, assault, abuse, discrimination, white supremacy and many others. But that's the easy part, isn't it?
But how are we to affirm the worth and dignity of even the people who themselves have commited these acts, ie. the rapists, murders, assaulters and oppressors? To my mind, the first principle firstly rejects the idea that anybody is "born evil", and that every person has the inherent potential for goodness.
Secondly, it seems to inform that even in the case of someone who has commited terrible actions and needs to face the consequences of those actions (for example being removed from society and placed somewhere where they can't cause further harm) we still have a moral obligation to see the human being and that we ought to oppose capital punishment or any form of cruel and unusual punishment and that the first aim of justice should always be rehabilitative/restorative rather than punitive for the sake of vengeance.
I also have the thought that harmful actions themselves are not the result of some supernatural evil, but rather (often but not always) the result of traumas, mental defects, mental illness, and other factors that a society is better able to address when we do recognize that every person has inherent worth and dignity. That's not to say that people don't have personal responsibility for their actions, but rather that we shouldn't dehumanize anybody, regardless of what they have done, as a pretext to treat them as though they are some kind of monster rather than human.
Lastly, I suspect the first principle is the first precisely because it is challenging and difficult, and it does present certain paradoxes.
I don't know really what other UU's think of all this. I don't know if this is what is actually meant in the first principle. Maybe I have it all wrong? What are your thoughts? Would this community be a good place for me?
EDIT: I want to thank the people who have shared their thoughts with me, on this post and others I have made recently. I have come to the conclusion that UU is not the path for me. I simply cannot reconcile the first principle, and the contradictions I see within it, with my own view and experience of human nature. Nor can I with those I see in some of the other principles as well. In some ways I admire you all. But I don't think I'm one of you. So I think I'll return to the outskirts, and wander for a while longer.